EVERYONE should know how to make this- and it’s so easy! 

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Hello friends! Well life is so busy lately getting settled in the new house and doing some minor renovations, mostly redecorating really. It’s fun to “feather the nest” of our forever home, but the process can be exhausting! 

This week we are having the interior of the house painted because it was really white inside, which is not my preference, so we are warming it up with a grey/beige palette. Everything is all over the place right now, it’s almost like when we first moved in. It’s going to look great though. I’ll share pictures when it’s completed.

 Anyway, before the painting started and I couldn’t use my kitchen I wanted to roast a whole chicken. I love to do this because it reminds me of Thanksgiving, even though it’s a chicken not a turkey. The house smells the same and it’s a lot quicker and easier to do! I believe that everyone should know how to roast a chicken because it’s an elegant dish to make for company or for a family dinner. If you want to impress a boyfriend or girlfriend, this is the meal to prepare because it looks like you spent hours on it and it’s really just so simple! I’m going to show you exactly what to do so keep on reading and I’ll prove it to you. 

Instead of my usual recipe form I’m going to walk you through this step by step so I’ll be right next to you throughout the journey. 

Here’s what you need to buy or gather- one chicken 5ish pounds, one onion, one lemon, 2 stalks of celery, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 medium potatoes, 2 stalks of fresh thyme or rosemary, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. For the gravy, 2 cups low sodium chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of rice flour. 

  
First you preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the chicken by rinsing and patting it dry with paper towels. 

  
Take the lemon, cut it in half, the two cloves of garlic whole, and the two sprigs of rosemary or thyme and stuff them into the cavity of the chicken, making sure to take the giblets out of it first. 

  
Cut up the potatoes, onion and celery and lay them in a baking pan. Put the stuffed chicken on top of the vegetables, and pour the olive oil on top of the chicken, and add salt and pepper to taste. 

  
Place the chicken in the 425 degree oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. When it’s done, take it out of the oven and remove it and the vegetables from the pan and onto a serving platter. 

  
Pour the pan drippings into a pot on the stove and add the rice flour to it and stir until combined. 

  
Then add the chicken broth and cook the gravy over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. 

  
That’s all you do! Just carve the chicken, pour some gravy over the meat and vegetables and eat all you want of this delicious meal! It’s healthy too because the chicken is full of lean protein, and the vegetables are full of fiber and both are chock full of vitamins! Oh, and because I used rice flour the gravy is GLUTEN FREE too- yay! Simple, elegant AND healthy! Can’t beat that! So that’s my recipe that EVERYONE should be able to make. Making and eating meals like this will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 

Being Thankful is GOOD for your Health! And Turkey Leftovers Part 2!

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I'm so thankful for these two!! xoxo

I’m so thankful for these two!! xoxo

Since the holiday centered around thankfulness is tomorrow I started thinking about being thankful. I did some research and did you know that being thankful is actually good for your health? Yes, it’s true! People who have social connections- through family, friends or even companion animals- have longevity, survive serious diseases, and have better health than those who have no social connections. Also, the act of “being grateful” is associated with better physical and emotional health, which makes sense, doesn’t it?! People who have social support are found to have more of the immune system natural killer cell activity, and even people who care for companion animals get sick less and recover faster than those who don’t have animals. It makes me doubly thankful for my family, friends and animals this Thanksgiving! I’m also thankful for my love of cooking which comes in handy during this food centered holiday! Tomorrow I’ll be cooking turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and asparagus for my family and though it’s exhausting I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

A long ago Thanksgiving- I'm so thankful for my family!

A long ago Thanksgiving- I’m so thankful for my family!

So you’re done with all the cooking and you’re left with a mountain of turkey meat, what do you do with it all? My family will eat turkey in the traditional Thanksgiving way for maybe one more meal after that before they are sick of it and I’m forced to be creative. In my last post “Leftovers you’ll love, what to do with all that turkey part 1”, I shared a recipe for leftover turkey (or any kind of meat) enchiladas which I hope you enjoyed reading about. Today, I’m going to share with you a recipe for turkey hash that is delicious, easy, and will get rid of more of that turkey in a different way.

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Ingredients gathered and ready to go!

Leftover Turkey Hash– ingredients, 2 cups of leftover turkey (or any) meat, 6 small potatoes, minced garlic, one small onion, 5 small red, orange and yellow peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Nuke the potatoes first!

Nuke the potatoes first!

1. Microwave 6 small potatoes for 5 minutes or until slightly soft. I like to microwave my potatoes first so that they will mostly cook before I put them in the pot. It saves a little time for me, which is always a good thing.

Chop your veg next!

Chop your veg next!

2. Prep your veggies next by chopping them so they’re ready to go in the pan.

LO4

3. Heat your pan, add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and toss your veggies in until they’re softened. Then, add a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

Chop potatoes when they come out of the microwave!

4. After the potatoes come out of the microwave, cut them in half to let them cool for a minute or two, then chop them into small pieces and add them to the pot with the other vegetables. Also, at this time add a teaspoon each of chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste at this time as well.

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

Everything happily cooking in the pot!

5. Add two cups of turkey meat next. In this case I was using a ham I had made the previous night for my hash. I’ll be using turkey after tomorrow!

Time for the eggs!

Time for the eggs!

6. Now is the time to make your fried eggs because hash is best when it’s covered with a delicious egg. All that gooey yolk runs over the hash to add a level of unctuousness to it! I just add a bit of butter to a fry pan, crack my eggs in, and cook them until the white is solid. The secret to delicious fried eggs is to cook them low and slow- slowly over a low heat- in order to keep them tender.

Yummmmm!!

Yummmmm!!

The only thing left to do at this point is to plate the hash, add the egg to the top of it, and eat! Add a few drops of hot sauce if you want a little extra kick, like I do. This meal can be eaten any time of the day or night because in my opinion eggs and hash are not just for breakfast. The picture at the beginning of this post shows my daughters digging in to this meal yesterday afternoon and they thought it was really great! So that’s it for today, and I hope you will try this recipe because it really is easy and delicious. I just want to say that I soooooo appreciate all of my readers, and know that when I count my blessings, you are one of them! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading and sharing my blog, it has been a life changing experience for me in every way! As I said earlier, being thankful is good for your health so take some time in the next few days to count your blessings as I will be. Being thankful will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Stay perky while eating your turkey! Healthy Thanksgiving eating tips part 2.

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Making stuffing is a team effort during my family Thanksgiving!

Making stuffing is a team effort during my family Thanksgiving- lol!

Hi All! So earlier in the week we talked about different ways to eat in a healthy way during MY FAVORITE EATING DAY OF THE YEAR! I love it so much it deserves all caps! I also shared my recipe for the most delicious, healthy and easy turkey and gravy in part 1. Today I want to focus on my healthy side dishes and dessert. Now, I love all the ooey, gooey side dishes at Thanksgiving- mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, green been casserole, corn pudding, etc, etc, etc… However, those side dishes are full of calories and all kinds of badness, so I’m giving you some alternates to bring to someone else’s gathering, or to serve at your own.

So first we go to the stuffing- Ok, I have to admit that I LOVE stuffing!! I’m not much of a bread person but when it’s all mushed together and baked it becomes delectable! A healthy swap for all that bread though is my stepmom, Karen’s wild rice stuffing and I want to share that with you now.

Delish!

Delish!

Wild Rice Stuffing

  • 1 small bag of gluten free stuffing (or rip up 1/2 loaf of gluten free bread)
  • 2 boxes of Long grain and wild rice
  • 32 oz. container of organic free range chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion (I don’t like big chunks of onion in my stuffing)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme, rosemary and sage
  • Teaspoon each of salt and pepper

First, sauté onions and celery in a dab of butter or EVOO, in a big pot that you’ll make the stuffing in. Then, make the stuffing according to package directions. In a separate pot make the rice according to the directions. When the rice is done, add it to the stuffing, onions and celery, and add the chicken broth to make it super moist. Last, put the mixture into a greased baking pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is crusty but the inside is still soft- and that’s it! No sausage or any meat in it, no stuffing it into the turkey (that thought makes me nauseous), and no big hunks of bread. It’s just one small bag of stuffing and most of the recipe is long grain rice which is whole grain. Yay! By the way, it is completely delicious too and you’ll really like it.

Next up are my wonderful Brussels sprouts. Now you may hate Brussels sprouts, as many in my family did before this dish, but these will turn you into a believer in the sprouts from Brussels!

They are really good- I promise!

They are really good- I promise!

Brussels sprouts with bacon

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound organic Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, cook the bacon in the same skillet you’ll make the Brussels sprouts. Place the bacon on a plate with a paper towel to rid of grease, and chop it. Drain the fat from the skillet but leave the bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the butter to the pan and sauté until melted. Then add the onion and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, or approximately 8-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and then put the bacon back into the pan and give it all a toss to combine. Then, serve. The sprouts get this golden brown crust that is so delicious and the bacon and onions give them such a great flavor. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Can you see how this is a healthier dish than green bean casserole in which most of the ingredients come from a can?!! Yes, I thought you would!

Now I know that when everyone thinks about dessert and Thanksgiving they think about some kind of pie, apple, pumpkin, pecan, etc,etc, etc., and I think of them too. But instead I make a gluten free berry crisp and let me tell you why. You get all the flavor of a pie without all of the calories. One slice of pecan pie is approximately 520 calories versus my berry crisp which comes in at 295 calories. And it’s really good too! Here we go!

I love me some gluten free berry crisp!

I love me some gluten free berry crisp!

Gluten Free Mixed Berry Crisp

 

  •  1 medium sized package frozen mixed berries thawed
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey
  • 2 cups gluten free baking flour
  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 1/2 cups packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups butter

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next, combine the berries and the honey in a large bowl and set it aside. In another bowl, combine all the rest of the ingredients except for the butter. Then, cut in the butter by using two knives and cutting until the mixture is crumbly. Last, you take half of the crumbly mixture into a 9 by 13 baking pan, then add the berries, and top with the other half of the mixture, and bake it for 30-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is brown. It’s just sooo good and far better for you than pecan pie!

So that’s what I’ll be making next Thursday, what will you be making? Let me know what you like to make, and I hope you try some of my recipes. Drop me a note if you do. Food like this will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

 

The Easiest Roasted Chicken- I Promise!

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Delicious, inexpensive and easy balsamic chicken!

Delicious, inexpensive and easy balsamic chicken!

I totally mean this too! This is the EASIEST recipe and you’ll impress everyone by making it because it’s delicious. It’s also CHEAP so college students if you live in a house or apartment you can make this and feed yourself and your roommates in an elegant way. It sure beats mac and cheese from a box! I promise you, this is the real deal. Actually making this easy recipe was an accident for me because I had intended to roast a whole chicken but I defrosted a cut up chicken mistakenly. I decided, what the heck, I’ll roast the cut up chicken and I’ll tell you it was just as wonderful as the whole chicken in half the time. I will always do it this way from now on for sure!

 

Balsamic Roasted Chicken

Start with a chicken cut up- cheap and easy!

Start with a cut up chicken- cheap and easy!

First get a big, cut up chicken from the store. Easy so far, right? You can get them on sale frequently, and just throw it in your freezer until you need it. Thaw it out first of course before you try to cook with it though. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Arrange potatoes, carrots and onions in the baking dish.

Arrange potatoes, carrots and onions in the baking dish.

Next, cut up 4 potatoes, throw in a third of a bag of small carrots, and a whole onion chopped in large chunks. Cover all those with a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), a sprinkle each of garlic powder, herbs de province, salt and pepper.

Chicken is in the oven! Cook away!

Chicken is in the oven! Cook away!

Now take the chicken pieces, put them in the baking pan, and cover it with the same stuff as above, a quarter cup of EVOO and a sprinkle of garlic powder, herbs de province, salt and pepper. Add a half cup of balsamic vinegar to the chicken and put it in the oven, skin side up for 50 minutes uncovered.

Here’s the great thing, at this point you could be absolutely done and serve it the way it is as a complete meal. I like to go a step further and make a gravy for the chicken because my family is saucy and always likes something to dip their food into. Don’t be afraid because gravy is really easy to make so if you have the time, take the next step.

The glorious, delicious, easy gravy!

The glorious, delicious, easy gravy!

Gravy is not difficult, believe me. You take a tablespoon of butter and melt it in a saucepan on medium heat. When it’s melted take 2 tablespoons of flour ( I use rice flour because it’s gluten free), and add it to the pan and stir until combined. It will suck up all the butter and make a sticky paste. That’s ok, don’t get nervous. I stir it around for another minute to brown the flour/butter paste a bit. Then, you add half of the drippings from your pan of roasted chicken and stir, stir, stir until combined. Next, you add the other half of the drippings and stir again. This is the point at which you make the decision, is it thick enough? Is it too thick? If it’s too thin, add more flour. If it’s too thick, add more pan drippings, and if you’re out of drippings, add chicken broth. I always add salt and pepper to my gravy and let it get a bit bubbly on the stove for a few minutes before serving. Then you pour it into a gravy boat (or just pour it from the pan onto your plates) and serve.

The finished product!

The finished product!

At this point, if you’ve made gravy, pour a little over your meat and veggies. If you haven’t then just serve it the way it is and it’s fantastic either way! The balsamic adds a nice flavor to the chicken and I’m not a big balsamic fan so believe me when I say that it really gives the chicken a lovely flavor. Plus, the balsamic gives the skin a nice dark color, and even if you take the skin off it still looks pretty to serve it that way.

So, that’s my quick, easy and delicious balsamic roasted chicken. Anyone can make it and look like a real chef to their husband, significant other, or roommates. It’s an elegant meal and a complete “one dish meal” too so that means not too much clean up which is always important to me since I can’t enjoy the rest of my evening until my kitchen is spic and span! Let me know how you like it if you try it. If you think about it, there are very healthy ingredients involved in this meal-meat, vegetables, spices, EVOO, salt and pepper. Eat this healthy meal and it will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!